Using an Herbal Liniment: Key Part of a 3-Step Healing Strategy

An herbal liniment (such as our Cortesia Quick Relief Liniment) is a medicinal liquid of herbs in a base or “carrier” of rubbing alcohol, Witch Hazel, or oil that is firmly rubbed into the skin to provide temporary, fast-acting pain relief and increased blood circulation. A liniment can be used alone, however, its effectiveness is increased when part of a 3-Step Healing Strategy using an accompanying topical salve and tincture. A good therapeutic liniment is effective for the following types of conditions:

  • Sore and inflamed joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • Alleviation of the discomfort of arthritis, bursitis, and rheumatism
  • Circulation problems (increases blood circulation in affected area)
  • Sprains, strains, and bruises
  • Injuries or discomforts from sports, gardening, work, or recreational activities associated with the above symptoms
  • Other conditions that may benefit from short-term relief

Liniments are one of the oldest known natural medicinal interventions, fully using the therapeutic qualities of certain plants. They have been used for thousands of years, applied externally on humans and animals alike. Horse trainers use liniments extensively to relieve leg strains and injuries unique to horses. Athletes and sports enthusiasts often find quick relief by using a liniment. (For example, rub in a liniment briskly before and after your morning or afternoon run or strenuous workout). Similarly, people suffering from arthritis or bursitis greatly benefit from the short-term relief that a liniment provides.

Although liniments are not designed to provide long-term relief from chronic pain or discomfort, they work especially well when combined with herbal salves and/or tinctures, which are more lasting over time in their healing effects. We discuss this healing strategy thoroughly below. Massage will also enhance the effects of a liniment.


Liniments most typically utilize an alcohol base as the menstrum, which acts as a carrier for the other ingredients. The alcohol enables deep skin absorption and a thorough delivery of the medicinal herbs. (Note: Many over-the-counter liniments have very high alcohol content and only a small percentage of penetrating herbs. Such high alcohol content can cause an allergic reaction, i.e. a skin rash, hives, redness, itching, dryness, or slight burning sensation).

Some liniment makers create a base that is part alcohol and part oil, resulting in a product that separates, is more difficult to spray, and constantly needs shaking. Others choose an oil base, which produces a type of liquid salve that easily spreads on the skin but may stain clothing and feel greasy.

The best liniment. We prefer a liniment that does not contain oil, is non-staining, does not dry out or irritate the skin, and is easy to spray on. A combination of Witch Hazel and Isopropyl Alcohol makes a superior carrier, or base, because it is less drying then alcohol alone. Unfortunately, most liniments on the market that contain Witch Hazel use that which is mostly alcohol (about 86%). Our liniment, as described below, uses double-distilled Witch Hazel that is only 14% alcohol, therefore assuring safe use on skin without irritation.

In short, a liniment can be made with a blend of dried herbs that are steeped in alcohol for 2-4 weeks, or longer (much like a tincture), than strained and combined with additional ingredients, such as herbal essential oils or other tinctures, if desired. The resulting liquid is the liniment.


There are many possible ingredients that can be used in a liniment. Indeed, for many centuries, liniments have been the cornerstone of folk remedies and have been subjected to much experimentation of herbal ingredients. Ideally, the different herbs will work together synergistically to treat a variety of conditions. For example, Solomon’s Seal root works particularly well when combined with Horsetail. Similarly, Rosemary essential oil (made from the flowers) draws out different healing properties than Rosemary tincture, but when combined, the oil and the tincture become especially effective.

Some herbs are warming and some are cooling. A liniment, therefore, can be formulated to be only warming or cooling, or both at the same time, as described below. Additionally, and depending on your condition or injury, you may not need the benefit of every ingredient in a particular liniment, but chances are that a number of the constituents will provide some level of relief. There are many liniments on the market to choose from. Oftentimes, you may need to experiment with various blends to find the right liniment for you.

Warming Properties of a Liniment

Certain herbs act as warming, circulatory stimulants. Such plants are especially helpful for arthritis and chronic injuries that may be characterized by pain and stiffness aggravated by exertion and/or cold weather. Warming herbs are very useful in a liniment because they stimulate local blood circulation and thus aid in kick-starting the body’s own healing response to an injury, whether it be chronic or acute. Examples of warning herbs are cayenne, rosemary, ginger, and black pepper.

Cooling Properties of a Liniment

Cooling herbs are useful for hot, inflamed conditions, and moderate swelling and inflammation. These herbs are useful for relief of sprains, tendonitis and ligament issues, bruises, or traumatic injury, such as a bone fracture, all of which cause inflammation of surrounding tissues. Peppermint and menthol are examples of cooling herbs.


When using herbal interventions or products such as a tincture, salve or liniment, we believe that a 3-Step Method is the best way to address many of the types of acute and chronic injuries mentioned above. (Note: This approach should never take the place of other practical strategies such as rest, support or elevation of injury, increasing water intake, etc.)


Apply Cortesia Quick-Relief Liniment topically several times daily, as needed, in area(s) where pain or discomfort is occurring. Apply morning, afternoon, and evening OR before and after periods of activity and again before bed. This will provide short-term relief so that certain activities are less painful or so that you can get to sleep. It is important to firmly rub the liniment for several minutes to stimulate blood circulation in the effected tissue or joint area. This works very well for arthritic conditions or joint issues to increase flexibility. Of course, use lighter pressure for a sprain, bruise, very sore muscle, or painful area.

sssalveSTEP 2:

Apply Cortesia Acute and Chronic Injury Salve externally to injured area twice daily, morning and evening (apply after the liniment). Wrap or bandage as needed to protect clothing. This is an important long-term method of healing for strains, sprains, aches, symptoms of arthritis, damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, etc. It perfectly compliments the liniment.

Note: After applying a liniment or salve, it is very useful to simply lay your hand(s) lightly over the affected area for a few minutes. This form of “touch healing therapy” is therapeutic (see our Blog article Solomon’s Seal and the Healing Effects of Touch to understand more). You can feel the warm or cooling sensation of your injury; you can also mentally visualize healing currents.


Solomon's Seal tincture

Consider taking Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture internally several times daily. Solomon’s Seal works to harmonize, feed, lubricate, and tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, muscles, attachments, and joints. It is a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, repetitive use injuries, and connective tissue damage. Depending on your injury or condition, one of our Solomon’s Seal Formulas may be appropriate — for example, the #1 Arthritis & Joint Repair, the #2 Bone-Building & Bone Repair, the #3 Cartilage & Tissue Repair, the #4 Pain & Tension Relief, or the #6 All-in-One Deep Healing Formula.


We firmly believe that any healing and relief strategy needs to consider the therapeutic importance of increased water intake and nutritional evaluation of one’s diet, as briefly explained below.

  • Drink plenty of water. This is always important when faced with an acute or chronic health condition. Pure water in and of itself is very healing and rejuvenating to the body’s tissues, joints, organs and blood. Unfortunately, many people drink far less than the recommended 8 cups of water per day. Therefore, analyze your own water intake. When fighting an illness or challenging condition, you may need as much as 12 to 16 cups (3 to 4 quarts) per day.
  • Evaluate your overall diet and nutritional well-being. Are you eating lots of corn, wheat, gluten-rich foods, or dairy products? These foods are common yet often unknown allergens for many people. Or perhaps you have a high-fat diet that includes many highly processed foods, or your diet is high in sugar. Coffee, alcohol, and soda pop can also cause problems, and are contraindicated in many health conditions.
    Basically, an allergy is an immune response, resulting in inflammation. You can take anti-inflammatory medicines, but what good will they do if your diet is not healthy? A negative response to certain foods can be exhibited anywhere in the body, because nutrients are digested, absorbed, and circulated throughout the body. This is especially true for joints and damaged tissues. Food allergies cause a wide range of problems and can be determined through the Elisa Food Allergy Panel, which measures your immune response to about 100 different foods.

Finances or availability can make it difficult to afford or obtain quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, alternative non-gluten grains, non-caffeinated and unsweetened juices or drinks, and the like – especially if they are organic. But it is important to eat as well and as wisely as you can, within your means. Planting a garden in which you can grow some of your own produce doesn’t hurt either!


Our Cortesia Quick Relief Liniment is composed of all organicor wild-crafted ingredients in a base of double-distilled organic Witch Hazel (86% pure witch hazel/ 14% alcohol) and Isopropyl Alcohol (91%). As noted earlier, many Witch Hazel products on the market actually contain very little Witch Hazel, being mostly alcohol. Our Witch Hazel is the highest quality available. Remember, the higher quality the base, the more effective the liniment.

Witch Hazel base: All-purpose anti-inflammatory, soothing and cooling, also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It is an excellent natural herbal carrier for the other herbal ingredients.

Isopropyl Alcohol: Acts as a co-carrier for the other herbal constituents and rapidly evaporates from the skin after it has done its job. The 91% alcohol content insures the best extraction of the therapeutic constituents of herbs we use and the deepest possible penetration of the finished liniment. An all-purpose antiseptic and disinfectant, Isopropyl Alcohol is often used for rubdowns after physical exertion and for general massage purposes.

Solomon’s Seal (polygonatum biflorum): Works to harmonize, feed, lubricate, and tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, muscles, attachments, and joints.  It is a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, repetitive use injuries, and connective tissue damage.

Comfrey Root (symphytum officinale): As a vulnerary, it kick-starts the body’s localized natural healing processes almost immediately. Exceptional ability to heal wounds, ulcers, and fractures, and moderate pain. Aids in rapid cell regeneration and bone repair, promotes healing of damaged tendons, ligaments, and swollen or inflamed tissue. Good for soothing a sore back, aching feet, or reducing the pain of arthritis or rheumatism.

Calendula (calendula officinalis): As an anti-inflammatory and vulnerary, it is excellent for bruises, strains, skin inflammations, burns, sunburn, and external wounds that are tender, red, and swollen.

St. John’s Wort (hypericum perforatum): Relaxes sore muscles and aids in healing the protective layer (myelin sheath) around the nerve core fibers. It is effective for general pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory, and to speed the healing of varicose veins, bruises, and burns.

Rosemary Essential Oil (from flowers – rosmarinus officinalis): Helps strengthen the capillaries and has a rejuvenating and toning effect on the skin. Useful for mild muscular pain, rheumatism, circulation problems, excess cellulite, and arthritis. Contains camphor, a stimulant that increases body heat in cold, tense, and arthritic joints. Eases stiffness in the body caused by fluid retention in muscles and other soft tissues. Also combats poor circulation by increasing the blood flow around the body. Suitable for dry, mature skin. Adds a pleasing fragrance to the liniment.

Rosemary Leaf (rosmarinus officinalis): Among a host of medicinal uses with a long history of use, rosemary is instrumental for relieving muscle pain, stimulating the circulatory and nervous systems, and promoting increased blood and lymph flow. The terpenoids in rosemary, such as rosmarinic acid, rosmanol, carnosol and ursolic acid provide effective anti-inflammatory benefits. The rosmarinic acid within rosemary also functions as a wide-ranging antioxidant and helps fight free radical damage.

Arnica (arnica montana): Helps remove congestion by dilating the blood vessels, supporting the circulatory system in more effective disposal of waste tissue and reconstruction of healthy tissue. It is an effective pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, and is useful for muscle spasms, bruises, sprains, and strains.

Cayenne Pepper (capsicum annuum): Reduces inflammation, soothes stiffness and pain. It is considered a warming ingredient because it helps stimulate local blood circulation to bring vital energy and healing to the affected area. Cayenne is a catalyst for Comfrey, helping the skin to absorb the Comfrey.

Horsetail (equisetum arvense): Horsetail’s high silica content helps to rebuild damaged cartilage and structures. It strengthens connective tissue, bones, cartilage, mucous membranes, arteries, skin, and other tissue. It is especially useful for misaligned joints restricted in their movement, as may be the case with arthritis or joint injuries.

Menthol Crystals: A cooling ingredient that is refreshing, aromatic, and helps relieve muscular aches and pains. Extracted from mint, menthol is widely used in health and beauty aids.

For detailed information about our line of Solomon’s Seal products, including tinctures, salves, liniment and tea, please visit our website:


2 thoughts on “Using an Herbal Liniment: Key Part of a 3-Step Healing Strategy

  1. Pingback: Zephyrs Garden Sore Muscle Liniment

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